Indigo Bunting

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The sparrow-sized, brilliant turquoise blue, male Indigo Bunting is one of the most eye-catching birds around.


Indigo Buntings have no blue pigment; they are actually black, but the diffraction of light through the structure of the feathers makes them appear blue.


Male Indigo Buntings sing from treetops, shrubs, and telephone lines all summer. They favor brushy pastures and edge habitat where fields meet the forest.


As with many birds, the adult female has less spectacular coloration and is mostly brown. In both sexes, the upper beak is dark contrasting with a whitish lower beak.


These birds perform a valuable service to man by consuming grasshoppers, cankerworms, flies, mosquitoes, weevils and other insect pests. Their diet also includes fruit and seeds.


The sights and sounds of Indigo Buntings are a pretty good indication that Summer is in full swing.

Third Eye Herp

Fiery Searcher


I saw a large, unusual shape clinging to the underside of a leaf on some low-growing vegetation and discovered this beetle. The Fiery Searcher is one of the largest ground beetles. It can grow to almost to one and a half inches long.

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Not only is it sizeable, but it is also quite colorful, being mostly a metallic green. It has a fierce appearance; if you look at the head of this insect, you will see sharp, curved jaws, used for grabbing prey. Fiery Searchers live in open woodlands, meadows and gardens. They are often under rocks, logs, leaves and bark. Both larvae and adults eat caterpillars. This beetle’s nickname is the “Caterpillar Hunter.” It will climb trees and plants to look for food.

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This is considered to be a beneficial creature, as Fiery Searchers eat more Eastern Tent Caterpillars and European Gypsy Moth caterpillars than any other type of caterpillars. These particular caterpillars do a lot of damage to trees.

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Although they run fast and bite hard, they have an additional trick up their sleeve to deter predators, which is releasing a noxious, bad-smelling spray when threatened.

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The Fiery Searcher is indeed interesting and appealing. It was awesome to encounter for the first time this Summer.

Third Eye Herp

Pitcher Plant

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This is the first time I’ve ever seen this plant in the wild. The leaves of the pitcher plant have reddish-purple patterns, which resemble flowers. Each leaf forms a “cup” that is partly filled with water. The “flower mimic” causes some of the insects investigating the potential source of food to become food for the plant.


Once an insect enters the hollow leaf, it is faced with waxy walls leading to a pool of water. The pit-fall trap of the pitcher plant further reduces its prey’s chance of escaping by having downward-pointing hairs to make getting out more difficult.

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In addition to using visual cues to attract prey, scent is utilized. The outer edge of the leaf produces a sweet-smelling substance. Ants are attracted to the smell and are trapped in a similar manner as flying insects.

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Pitcher plants reside in bog habitats in eastern North America. Carnivorous plants tend to live in nitrogen-poor soils. They augment the inadequate nitrogen in the soil by capturing and consuming insects.

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In the Summer, this plant produces a large maroon-to-red colored bell flower, 2-3 inches wide, which droops from a single, tall leafless stalk.   The Pitcher plant is indeed mysterious. With its unique ability to obtain food, it has inspired us to reshape our concept on how nature really works.

Third Eye Herp

Four-toed Salamander

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This small, slender salamander is orange to grayish brown above, sometimes with small black and bluish speckles on the sides. This is Ohio’s smallest salamander – and the first one I’ve ever found. Adults are 2 to 3 inches long; their tails make up over half their length.

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Though it ranges throughout much of the state, it only occurs where boggy ponds or spring-fed creeks are available in or near damp wooded habitats. As its name implies, this amphibian has only four digits on its front and hind feet.

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Four-toed Salamanders can voluntarily detach their tails, which continue to wiggle to distracting predators. This autonomization of their tails in unique. The tails of most salamanders must be grasped to come off.

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It was cool to finally meet this uncommon and secretive creature in the wild.

Third Eye Herp

Crown-Tipped Coral Mushrooms

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These tend to grow on wood that has been dead for a very long time. They will grow on both hardwood and coniferous logs. This coral fungus or coral mushroom is appropriately named because it looks like coral from the ocean floor. It is rather small, as it Latin species name, pyxidata, hints at.

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Crown-Tipped Coral Mushrooms are actually one of the duller-colored coral fungi. There are some very striking, brightly-colored coral fungi, especially west of the Great Plains.

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Like so many fungi, this species exists as a network of cells that obtains nourishment by digesting the rotting wood that it lives within. Most of the mushroom hidden. When ready to reproduce, the branching “fruiting body” develops outside the wood, which is a reproductive structure.

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Crown-Tipped Coral Mushrooms, like other fungi, perform an important feat of breaking down once-living matter to release carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and other matter back into the soil and atmosphere.

Third Eye Herp

Giant Leopard Moth

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Walking through Brecksville Reservation, just a few minutes from my home, I noticed this stunning creature resting on a log.

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This species has a wingspan of 3 inches. The wings of this moth are a high contrast bright white with a pattern of black spots, some solid and some hollow.

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This is the first adult I’ve ever seen, though I am familiar with their caterpillars, which have black bristles and orange colored bands between their segments.

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Although they are called “leopard moths” these insects belong to the family known as “tiger moths.”  There are thousands of species in this group, many with equally vivid markings.

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It was an awesome experience to come across this spectacular insect known from its amazing coloration and impressive size.

Third Eye Herp